May 26, 2015

Get Back to Basics: Is Social Media Killing Your Blog?


Well, is it? I don't know about you but I have found that an activity which started out as a casual side-hustle channel for promoting my blogging has quickly supplanted my blog all together. And I'm not even that active on social media! Facebook is not the time suck here --for the most part I just auto-share my feed content from the other networks to FB because, at least in my case, I have not found Facebook to be a big growth area follower-wise. It's more like an easy way for my close friends and relatives to keep tabs on my writing (Thx for the Likes, Ma!) No the big diversion has proven to be Twitter and to a lesser extent Instagram. Again I don't tweet/insta much --at least not compared to some people-- but I do invest a little time on each network every day and increasingly social networks are the starting point to Shoestring Sally's online presence and not the actual blog. I don't feel good about that. Because it is not the trending tweets and follows that made me want to blog. I had something to say and I'm a chickie who needs more than 140 characters to strut my stuff. So it is time to retool and reassess and in short get back to basics: blog first, tweet later! But it used to be so easy and now it feels damn hard.

Reclaiming my digital center as a wordsmith will require a little discipline because social media is such an easy seducer. It does have its place but is not without its perils, especially for the small fry blogger like myself. Here's 3 things I have learned along the way.

1. Lots of followers do NOT mean lots of readers.

 

Graphic available at http://blog.karachicorner.com
The title of this piece poses the question "Is Social Media Killing Your Blog?" but chances are your blog's already dead. Or rather (to steal from The Princess Bride) it's mostly dead. But the good news is that mostly dead means slightly alive! You see, the days of blogs blooming big overnight are gone. Everyone blogs or used to blog. It's old hat and we're all so social media saturated we do not follow blogs by the dozen anymore; typically if people are brand loyal then it is to a select 1 or 2 sites. If you have a core audience that keeps coming back congrats! These are loyal readers. Here's the thing though that I didn't know when I first put out my Twitter handle: social media does not create brand loyalty, it builds on it. If your readership is small chances are it won't get much bigger on Twitter. I find new fans quickly on social media --but fans of my tweets or pics. A very small percentage of those new faces actually click on the links to my blog posts. I have noticed a slight bump in blog hits since being on Instagram but, again, the overreaching trend is Consistent New Content = Consistent Readership Growth. Problem is, you get too caught up in that other social network world you build for yourself: slowly but surely the "tweeting you" detaches from the "blogging you" and, accustomed to the instant gratification of the favorited tweet or IG follow, you blog less. I have often found myself using my Twitterfeed as a cop out tactic when I was just too lazy to blog, but it does not provide the same satisfaction that a well-crafted post brings.

2. If you're understaffed & pressed for time focus on the product.

 

Big blogs can invest in a social media team-- even if that team is one person it makes it easier for the content creator(s) to focus all the creative energy on content creation. But if you're like me, a creator and promoter in one then it can be easy to let the product fall by the wayside and devote too much energy on selling. What's too much? Anything that diminishes the integrity of the work you're promoting. Making connections and building followers is great but if the end result is you rarely blog anymore and got nothing new to show for it, why bother to keep up the blog site at all? Don't get me wrong, I have found some great new readers via Twitter but percentage-wise my first point holds up: not enough readers find me via social media to warrant a greater investment in promotion over creation.

3. It's easy to love blueberries.

 

Blueberries are super popular on Instagram. Have you noticed that? So are kittens, closeups of bugs, dandelion puffs, succulent plants, people's feet, lattes... I could go on and on. The split second appraisal culture of social media is a fun but dangerous distraction for the serious writer with a blog to promote. Hey if you want to simply be popular or share pretty berries then by all means drink the Kool-Aid. But if you're still grinding away at this debatably over art form called blogging because you got a love for words and a yen to communicate your story then it is time to check yourself. Are you getting too caught up in the blueberry-loving game? Feeling pressure to tweet when you'd rather extrapolate? Walk away from the network and get back to your work. It isn't always easy. Writing this was a workout! It's SO much easier to post a selfie, right?

Believe me, I know it is hard. Just google the phrases "do people still read blogs" and "should you still blog" and tons of sites pop up with people bemoaning and debating the current state of blogdom. There are times when what I'm doing just feels so 2005 and I want to throw in the towel and retreat into Hashtag Land. But heck, I'm a writer first, last, and always. Writers may wander but they always end up back at the page, be it paper or pixelated. For what it is worth, this is my soapbox (shoebox?). I'm not giving up Shoestring Sally's social media accounts, but I AM going to be giving Shoestring Sally a little more time and attention. It is where my words live, where Sally was born. Any place else is a day trip. 

A few final words...

One more point about social media networks, they are rife with badgering social media experts, ninjas, evangelists, gurus, Jedis, and influencers that can pollute one's online world with the most grating noise. You'll recognize these hucksters by their persistent sales pitch and insincere attempts at connection. Yup the social media industry kinda has a bad rap because of them. But there is ONE social media professional I have encountered in my online adventures who I have to say is pretty awesome and that cool cat is Marji J. Sherman. I am not a client of Marji's nor is this a sponsored endorsement. I just dig what she's doing. Marji preaches the gospel of AUTHENTICITY in social media marketing and her writings on the subject are definitely one of the things that has inspired me to re-embrace the core of my online presence, my writing. I can't recommend Marji's website enough to those of you out there trying to make sense of your social network strategy.

No comments:

Post a Comment